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Brit Milah still a vital ritual

The available data showed circumcision is on the increase

    A brit milah in Germany, where circumcision has also been a subject for public debate (Photo: Getty Images)
    A brit milah in Germany, where circumcision has also been a subject for public debate (Photo: Getty Images)

    Communal leaders have rejected a rabbi’s claim that Jews are increasingly choosing not to circumcise their sons.

    Jonathan Romain, rabbi of Maidenhead Reform Synagogue, said more Jews were opting to hold a naming ceremony instead of following the tradition.

    But religious leaders said there was no trend among Jews to forgo the brit milah ritual.

    Rabbi Dr Jackie Tabick, the Convenor of Reform Judaism’s Beit Din, said Jewish parents saw the ceremony as an integral part of Jewish life. She said: “The vast majority of parents in Reform communities choose to have brit milah.

    “People might do it in different ways, they might go to the hospital, they might use a mohel, but they do it. The number of Jews who don’t is very small.”

    Judith Russell, development director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JRP), said the available data showed circumcision was on the increase, “primarily, but not exclusively, because of the rising numbers of Charedi births within the Jewish population.”

    Rabbi Charley Baginsky, Liberal Judaism’s director of strategy and partnerships, said it was vital to counter the negative media coverage of circumcision. She said: “It is important that the Jewish community as a whole speaks up for the ritual of circumcision.”

    Rabbi Baginsky said that Jews within the Liberal movement were largely committed to the ceremony.

    “In my experience and that of colleagues, when families use our mohelim I do not hear anything but wonderful stories of how important the moment was for them,” she said.

    A spokesperson for the United Synagogue said there has been “no sign whatsoever” that the tradition was waning.

    Matt Plen, executive director of Masorti Judaism, said: “We are not aware of any trend among our members, which suggests they are moving away from circumcision.”

    Records of how many babies are being circumcised are not kept by Milah UK, which promotes the practice in the UK, nor by the religious denominations.

    Rabbi Romain had told The Times some couples were opting for a “brit shalom”, ceremony, which does not include circumcision.

    He said it was “a result of parents wanting to have an initiation ceremony into the Jewish faith but without circumcision.” He attributed the phenomenon to an increase in inter-faith marriage.

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